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Death toll in North Korea floods rises

The death toll from recent floods in North Korea has risen significantly. The UN has already committed to delivering emergency food aid to the impoverished state to help it to deal with the crisis.

The death toll from the recent floods that have ravaged parts of North Korea has risen to 169, state-run media reported Saturday.

The floods, brought on by heavy rain last month, have left more than 212,000 people homeless, and 400 people are still missing, according to the media reports.  

Previously, media had estimated that the death toll was more than 100.

UN to give aid

The new figures came after the United Nations announced on Friday that it would provide North Korea with emergency aid to help the isolated nation to deal with its crisis.

In a statement posted on its website on Friday, the United Nations aid body said the emergency assistance would provide flood victims "with an initial ration of 400 grams [14 ounces] of maize a day for 14 days."

The World Food Program (WFP) did not say when the shipment would arrive in North Korea.

The UN mission said immediate food aid was needed in the worst affected counties: Anju and Songchon in South Pyongan province and Chonnae in Kangwon province.

It also said that some 50,000 families lacked clean drinking water and stood in need of purification tablets or other help to prevent disease.

An impoverished country

Widespread deforestation in the country has led to an increased vulnerability to flooding and drought. A famine in the 1990s killed hundreds of thousands.

Watch video 01:05

Devastating floods in North Korea

The food situation remains substandard, with a recent UN report saying that 7.2 million of North Korea's 24 million were "chronic poor" and that one in three children suffered from poor nutrition.

North Korea is still one of the world's most secretive states, but UN agencies said on Friday that access had improved during the most recent flooding, a possible indication that the country is looking to ease its traditional isolation.

The country has seen a recent change of leader, with the young Kim Jong Un taking over from his father Kim Jong Il, who died in December.

tj,sej/slk (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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